Philippine Airlines is the Official Papal Carrier

Philippine Airlines was once again blessed with the honour of being the official Papal carrier. After nearly twenty years since last carrying a Pope, PAL was tasked with flying Pope Francis on Saturday from Manila to Tacloban aboard an A320 aircraft. 

pope francis tacloban
Image Source: Philippine Airlines
In postings shared on social media, the national flag carrier expressed its pride in being selected as the official Papal carrier once again. Pope Francis departed Manila an hour earlier than scheduled on Saturday for Tacloban. The Pope arrived at Villamor Airbase at 7:13am with the scheduled departure moved to 7:30am. Before departing, Pope Francis made time to greet the well-wishers that had been waiting at the airport since dawn.

pope francis philippine airlines
Image Source: Philippine Airlines
Pope Francis flew to Tacloban to celebrate Mass with the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan. However, the presence of Typhoon Amang forced the Pope to shorten his trip by several hours. He was originally scheduled to depart at 5:00pm, but ended up leaving four hours earlier at 1:00pm. The Pope expressed his disappointment to the eager crowd that he had to depart early but informed them that the pilot had insisted they must leave no later than 1:00pm due to the incoming typhoon.

On board the aircraft, Philippine Airlines had a special menu prepared for the Pope's travelling entourage. During a press briefing held late on Saturday afternoon, Cardinal Tagle Louis Tagle noted that he observed the Pope eating a bag of potato chips aboard the flight.

Image Source: RJ Castro/PPSG
In addition to flying the Pope between Manila and Tacloban, Philippine Airlines will also be flying Pope Francis back home to Rome when his visit ends on January 19. It is believed that Philippine Airlines will be using its flagship, Boeing 777 aircraft, though it has not been confirmed. 

philippine airlines papal flight
Image Source: Philippine Airlines
Philippine Airlines previously flew the Pope on two occasions. In 1981, PAL flew Pope John Paul II during his pastoral visit to the Philippines to six different provincial airports over a span of three days. The carrier also transported the Pope to Guam and Tokyo Haneda after his visit to the country. In that instance, a Philippine Airlines DC-10 aircraft was used with a special Papal chamber equipped in the aircraft. 

philippine airlines papal carrier
Copyright Photo: Diego Roxas/PPSG
In 1995, PAL once again had the honour of flying Pope John Paul II to Port Moresby after his second pastoral visit to the Philippines for World Youth Day. Unfortunately, the Pope's visit was restricted to just Manila on his four-day visit due to health reasons. The airline actively maintains a collection of memorabilia from their flights with Pope John Paul II. It has not been announced if any special arrangements have been made for Pope Francis on his upcoming flight back to Rome.

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